The Proscenium

 The Proscenium

The Proscenium, which is a stage of reverie and ordinary dramas, will temporarily occupy a woodland clearing at Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer, Buckinghamshire.

It's location “en plein air” is inspired by the theatrical culture that flourished first in Ancient Greece in 700 BC. Greeks built open-air theatres with bowl-shaped semi-circular arenas and prosceniums, where the public could watch the performances of Greek comedy or tragedy. This allowed all theatre activity to be performed in a single place and time, and everyone came into a common space and shared a similar experience. The Romans continued and expanded on this concept, added a monumental wall backstage and generally made the structures more grandiose.

My work explores the space or “ imaginary wall” at the front of the stage, The Proscenium, through which the audience sees the action unfold. This Fourth Wall is this boundary between the spectator and the setting. Theatre allowed for the flourishing of a common culture and sharing of experiences. These experiences lessened feelings of isolation and made people feel part of a community. From community comes democracy. By the same token, when democracy is not possible, as under a dictatorship, artists are not free to express themselves, and the culture of common experiences disappears or goes underground.

Theatre throughout the following centuries created this egalitarian relationship between the performers and the audience. Spectators could chat to their neighbours during or after the performance, and could even boo or otherwise express their displeasure or boredom - this before we saw the introduction of behavioural norms during the Victorian era. The barrier between the parties was more permeable, the wall facing the audience was invisible.

The discourse about freedom is caught in the wonder of this summer phenomenon. Listening to the woodland at Fulmer, I have worked with pianist Kamilla Arku to create a play which is acted by a primordial chorus of pianos, birdsong, whispered wishes, and sung and spoken incantations of Thomas Hardy's poem, Proud Songsters. The visitor becomes an actor and spectator in a new visual, sonic and natural landscape: free to roam and explore, to let the senses intertwine, to weave their own voice and perspective into the terrain.

This installation therefore contemplates the theatre of the world through different scenes and windows, playing with materials and processes, and with the senses and perceptions of spectators, reminding them that looking is a relational act based on selection and exclusion. Going through the tactile and intellectual processes during the making of the work is where the balance of tension is represented. “ My hands discover the beauty in my own time and space”

2’52” extract of The Proscinium surrounding sound installation.

Various dimensions - Plywood, MDF, timber, screenprint on 5 acrylics, one-way mirror window film, school chair, surrounding sound installation 15’00” - 2018/2019